The weekend before Valentines Day is prime real estate for a romantic comedy—the brief break from the late winter moviegoing doldrums when studios like to trot out the best of their date movies. The timing means the marketing pretty much writes itself, and only a spectacularly botched ad campaign (or a spectacularly lame movie) could squander what's usually guaranteed bank at the box office. (Still, Over Her Dead Body—opening two weekends before Cupid's big day—somehow managed to misfire in both regards.)
But of course, movie studios don't just give this opening slot to any ol' romantic movie—generally, it takes a proven star, like a Tom Hanks or an Adam Sandler, to earn the prize. Or, in this case, proven directorial prowess. Andy Tennant only has a few movies under his belt (including Ever After and Sweet Home Alabama), but with 2005's blockbusting Hitch, Tennant proved to be one of the reigning kings of romantic comedy, more than earning dibs on the Valentines slot for his new movie, Fool's Gold.
Hitch was a surprise charmer of a movie, doing big business because of its smart humor, heartfelt storytelling, and the charisma of its leading man and lady. And if Fool's Gold isn't nearly as good, it's also far from a total disappointment—and easily the best romantic comedy playing right now. And it does a commendable job overcoming its obvious disadvantages when compared to Hitch.
Like, for instance, the story. Hitch's plot—about a "date doctor" who was great at advising others about relationships, but muddled up his own love life—provided a perfect platform for down-to-earth, character-driven comedy. But where Hitch was all about the characters, Fool's Gold is much more concerned with ...1